Sunday, 13 March 2016

29, Let's Go! - Turn 2: La Cambe

D+2, 8th June 1944

"Where the hell you heading, boy?"
Staff Sergeant, First Class, Jonas J McKenna was as proud of his uniform as he was his Irish-American heritage. The war was straightforward as far as he was concerned. He was here to do a job and that was to drive the Nazis back to Berlin where they belonged. He didn't care to understand or even waste time on those who didn't feel the same way, so one of the things he really hated to see was an American soldier on the retreat. It didn't matter that the GI had obviously been in action, and by the look of the mud and smattering of blood on his left sleeve, very recently. Wasn't good for anyone to see Americans on the run. The GI, flustered after realising he was the one the Staff Sergeant was shouting at, stopped, looked up, and saw a fat man standing behind the turret of a Sherman tank, pointing at him with the stub of a cigar.
"You're going the wrong direction, boy. Pretty sure the road to Berlin's thisaway." The Staff Sergeant gestured along the road to Isigny, the line that the column of tanks was moving. "Get your men and join the line", he said calmly. "No damn Nazis going to stop us now. We're gonna get them back for what they done to our boys at Omaha."
The US platoon is supported this time by 25 support points, spent on additional BARs in each squad, a medic, a forward observer from an off-table 60mm mortar battery, and three Shermans. The Germans spend their 12 points on a sniper, an adjutant, a forward observer from an off-table 60mm mortar battery, and an MG42 on tripod mount. The Americans begin with 10 Force Morale points, the Germans 8.
The patrol phase ends with American jump-off points in roughly the same positions as for the previous game, one behind the manor house and the other two along the main road. The Germans have one jump-off point at the house, one along the orchard hedge line and one positioned slightly forward behind a hedge along the main road.
Almost an hour had passed since the Americans had pulled back. With some relief, reviewing the situation, Lund saw that the damage had not been as bad as he had originally thought. Light wounds for the most part, and bandaged but relieved, the majority of his men had now returned to their foxholes behind the hedge, and were watching for the enemy. The guns were out of action, though, which was a problem, and intermittent interference on the radio, which two of his men were frantically doing their best to fix, was causing difficulties contacting the FlaK battery. His defensive line had held, but it was unlikely to last for much longer.
There was one piece of good news, though. HQ had called, advising that a mortar battery just over a kilometer behind his position had been ordered to give him support. Good news indeed, as long as that radio could be repaired soon.
US infantry squad No.1 deploys
Turn 1, Phases 1-2
The Americans have the first turn and deploy squad No.1 in front of the house on the left flank and squad No.2 and the Platoon Sergeant behind the manor house. The Germans deploy their senior leader, sniper and forward observer in the house on their right flank, and infantry squad No.1 behind the hedge line in front of the house.
The Germans deploy beside the house
The sniper rifle had been lying on the floor as if placed there deliberately. A few scratches, but no serious damage - unlike the body of its former owner which must have protected it when the roof fell and part of the wall of the house had collapsed in the explosion of a direct hit from an enemy shell. The sight had needed adjustment, but that had been a simple task for its new owner. Gunter had been considered a good shot during basic training. "Bullseye", they'd called him, but he'd never had the chance to use a proper sniper rifle. So of course he had raised his hand when the Unterfeldwebel had asked for a volunteer, and now here he was, crouching over a heap of brickwork with his rifle poking through a hole in the wall staring at the La Cambe manor house, where there was some movement. As he made out the enemy soldier pushing through the hedge, he fired, missing, but forcing the surprised GI to jump back into cover. Then, as the sniper reloaded, he could see the Americans scrambling rapidly across the open ground and into the relative protection of the manor house itself.
US infantry scramble for the safety of the manor house
Turn 1, Phases 3-6
US squad No.1 moves tactically forward to positions behind the hedge, while the German squad No.2 deploys along the orchard hedge. The sniper shoots at US squad No.2 inflicting shock while the forward observer calls for a mortar barrage. The Americans control the shock, deploy their forward observer and medic and advance into the manor house. Squad No.1 goes into overwatch and squad No.3 is deployed behind the house on the left flank.
There was an explosion in the field and spout of muddy soil was thrown into the air as a mortar shell - a mere ranging shot - hit the ground, several yards off to the right from where the Americans had been scrambling and a good distance away from the manor house, its intended target. Gunter turned to the right now that his target near the house had disappeared into the building. Peering down the road he saw a broken line of American soldiers moving cautiously around the edge of a house to take up positions behind a hedge on the opposite side of the ploughed field.
US forces steadily build up on their left flank, waiting for support
He took aim. Perhaps he would have better luck against this target. More men were joining them now, edging cautiously around the house. It seemed like the enemy were assembling their forces ready for an advance across the fields on that flank. Opposite, in their positions behind their own hedges, the Germans waited, watching expectantly, as the mortars of both sides exchanged ranging shots that fell wide of their targets.

Turn 1, Phases 7-11

The German forward observer calls in a ranging shot onto the Manor House but it falls widely off target. The sniper changes target to shoot at US squad No.1 and deploys the MG42 team in position to fire at the same target. The third German squad deploys along the orchard hedge. The US forward observer calls for a mortar barrage. A second ranging shot on the Manor House is closer but still off target. The Americans deploy their platoon leader in the house on left flank and a US mortar ranging shot falls wide of its mark. All German squads are put on overwatch.
Germans defend from the cover of the orchard hedge line
The Americans were waiting as well. They had learned that crossing that open ground was fraught with peril, but this time their advance would be better supported. Wheels squeaking on the tarmac, a Sherman was moving up along the road, the head of a column of armour.
The Germans behind the hedge ducked as another ranging shot from the American mortars flew overhead, much closer, this time crashing through the upper storey of the house, and exploding in a cloud of shattered masonry, which rained dust and brick fragments on the men in their foxholes. The house, which had already suffered earlier today, held together despite the damage, but the sniper had been silenced, killed remorselessly before even having the chance to prove his worth. Though no-one spoke, the mood along the German lines was sullen.
Turn 1, Phase 12
The first Sherman enters along the road. A second ranging shot from the US mortars is a direct hit on the house and kills the German sniper. The Germans suffer -1 force morale.
A crescendo of mortars commenced, both sides' barrages commencing at the same time, and the battlefield was plunged in smoke and dust. Two tanks had moved alongside the house and were firing on the German lines as well. The smoke and dust was everywhere. Men could not see or hear and kept their heads down, close to the ground, their hopes and prayers focused on survival. It was the break the Americans needed, and infantry moved over the hedge and across the ploughed field, advancing to the German lines, taking advantage of the cover of the smoke and the enemy's preoccupation with the barrage.
US armour advances along the Isigny road
Turn 1, Phases 13-19
A German mortar barrage opens up on the manor house causing minor casualties and shock. The US mortars return the favour as another Sherman arrives and both tanks advance down the road. The US mortar barrage continues, and shock and kills begin to mount. Shock caused by German mortars is more successfully managed by the Americans. US squad No.2 advances into the ploughed field.
Without warning, the enemy barrage suddenly ceased. Lund did not waste time giving the order to fire, and his men were quick to react to the situation. Their enemy, unexpectedly caught in the open expanse of the field, dropped to the ground, seeking cover in the ridge and furrow of the ploughed soil, while their own tanks and mortars returned fire on the German lines in an effort to protect them. Ignoring the explosions of mortar shells, Lund shouted encouragement at his troops, doing all he could to maintain morale.
US infantry advance under heavy fire across the ploughed field 
Turn 2, Phases 1-9; Turn 3, Phase 1
The turn ends as a result of command dice. Units are unpinned and the smoke clears.
The Germans desperately try to reduce the shock on their teams while they open fire on the US squad No.2. Both tanks advance with machine guns firing. While the German fire is sufficient to pin US squad No.2, they are suffering from accumulated shock and kills themselves. US mortars fire again, but off target. The Germans use a Chain of Command die to end the turn and another to maintain their own mortar barrage, but the American mortars are successfully called on once more.
Tended by medics, a wounded soldier was groaning with pain near the wall of the house, a heap of broken timber, plaster dust and brick debris left behind after machine gun fire had torn through the upper storey of the house. This unfortunate man must be the forward observer - he had been the only one still inside the building. That was a setback, for now Lund had no means of calling for mortar support, which he desperately needed. It seemed there would be no reprieve for Lund's platoon. The guns of both Shermans were firing again, tearing branches from the hedgerow and forcing the German defenders to flatten themselves further into the damp soil, wthdrawing even deeper into their foxholes. Lund felt an unexpected surge of pride. Although the faces of his men betrayed their fear - their desire to be elsewhere, loyalty to their duty kept them in their mud-sodden positions even as their companions were being wounded and killed all around. Even now, the intensity of enemy fire was increasing, with American mortars shells raining relentlessly on their position. And above all this Lund felt a far deeper resonance that shook the ground every few moments. Heavy artillery, possibly naval guns, had begun firing - not at them, thankfully, but at some distant target.
The taller of the radio repair men appeared suddenly by his side, spattered with mud and dust, leaping into the safety of the rubble pile beside the house where Lund was crouching. Taking barely a moment to catch his breath, he shouted his report above the noise of the barrage.
"Sir, the radio is repaired," he announced. Good news, but he spoke hesitantly. Lund could sense there was worse to follow. "But we have lost contact with headquarters. The lines are down." Probably the naval bombardment, Lund reasoned. The sky behind their positions, in the direction of Isigny, was glowing, flames from the burning town tinting the overcast clouds with an orange glow. There were few options left now. Behind the smoke and dust raised by their mortars the enemy were advancing, and they would soon reach the German lines. Too many good men had died already today. It was time to go. Lund gave the order to fall back. The relief in the eyes of his men was obvious as they moved cautiously out of their foxholes, back from the hedge line and through the orchard to the comparative safety of positions further to the rear.
Turn 3, Phases 2-4
The Americans use a Chain of Command die to interrupt and shoot one Sherman with full effect as the Germans attempt to manage shock. The US mortar barrage then falls directly on target as both Shermans open fire and the German forward observer is killed. The Germans make the decision to withdraw to safe positions rather than continuing to fight a losing battle, and as all their troops are close enough to jump-off points to retire, the game ends.
Campaign Management at the end of Game 2
US forces win the scenario and take the hamlet of La Cambe.
The Germans suffer 12 dead which is more than the Americans. Because there is no radio contact, the change in the German CO’s opinion is unknown  at this stage, but may be resolved later. The opinion of Lund's men’s opinion moves from +1 to -1, while Lund's own outlook moves down one on the table to “Worried”.
"Damn it to Hell!" Colonel Goode gazed at his desk, deeply troubled. For a moment, during that call, he had felt less worried, but then the same man who had informed him that La Cambe had been captured had told him that while pursuing the retreating enemy his brave boys had been bombed by some stupid American pilots who had mistaken them for Germans. They 'weren't expecting friendly troops that far inland from Omaha', apparently. Disappointing, annoying and stupid, but just the sort of thing he had expected after being given the order to advance his men that fast. He couldn't let that happen again, his men deserved better. They would hold and consolidate their positions at La Cambe for the time being. His mind firmly set, Colonel Goode picked up the receiver and gave the order to halt.

Colonel Goode’s opinion moves up by one after La Cambe is captured, but an immediate attack on his advancing troops by friendly aircraft reverses his opinion which drops by two to “Nervous”. Because of this, he makes the decision to delay for one Campaign turn at La Cambe.